Retiring alderman to be saluted at Thursday dinner

Retiring First Ward Alderman Irene Holcomb, whose service on the Pine Bluff City Council spans nearly a quarter of a century, will be saluted at a public dinner dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Holcomb was elected to an open seat in 1988, winning with 53 percent of the vote. As an alderman, she is known for her strong convictions.

She’s put her seniority to work by lobbying for many projects she felt strongly about, including summer youth work programs and improvements to community centers. She endorsed both the economic development and municipal sales tax issues, noting Pine Bluff needs additional jobs and community development.

Holcomb is a native of Altheimer. A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, she was a school teacher for 35 years, mostly in Little Rock. She retired in 2004.

She credits her political successes to talents she acquired as a teacher and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) volunteer.

Holcomb believes the city’s biggest asset is “its great people,” while the chief negative is its “image and perception,” which she blames on the media having “spotlighted our worst moments.”

Holcomb, who recently underwent hip replacement surgery, said her decision not to seek re-election was based in part on her realization that she wanted to spend more time with her husband, two sons, grandchildren and 99-year-old mother.

After stepping down from the council, she’ll also devote more time to her family business, Henson-Holcomb Mortuary.

“I have enjoyed being a public servant laboring for the community,” she said.

Tickets to the semi-formal affair for a “Living Lady Legend” are $10 each and should be paid in advance. For tickets, call Wanda Neal at 870-536-3141, Casandra McFedden at 536-5578 or Ivan Whitfield at 643-7252.